Tag Archives: Atheism

New resource at UCF includes Humanism

May 26, 2017

voicePlease join BE. Orlando in thanking the University of Central Florida for their commitment to an inclusive community. Take a moment to sign the thank-you letter to UCF for enhancing inclusion for secular and religious minority individuals: https://srmaucf.wordpress.com/thank-you-ucf

Signing the letter will show UCF – and other institutions that might consider similar initiatives – that inclusion MATTERS.

martin-luther-king-jr-quote-anextraordinaryday-net_Faith-related discrimination is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time, and much effort needs to be focused on supporting people of non-faith,  one of the most hated and misunderstood marginalized populations in America.  We can work to change this through education to overcome misinformation; building bridges across our differences; and working together to make the world a better place for everyone.

There are shining examples in our own community of individuals, organizations, and institutions making inspiring efforts to ensure inclusion and equitable resources for people of all faith and non-faith perspectives.

In June 2016, the University of Central Florida revised its official non-discrimination statement; the changes included explicit recognition of non-religious identities as a protected class.  This month (May 2017), they have published a website providing both religious and non-religious resources for inner-life support of students, faculty, and staff.  You can view the site here: http://rnr.sdes.ucf.edu.

The University of Central Florida is an innovative, progressive national leader in diversity and inclusion. It is the second largest university in the nation, serving more than 65,000 students and employing more than 10,000 faculty and staff.  We should be proud of UCF for many things – and one is its clear commitment to ensuring an inclusive campus for everyone.

We hope you will join us in signing the thank you letter to UCF.

For more information, contact nonreligion@ucf.edu.


 

Advertisements

Great day at Veg Fest

What a beautiful, wonderful day at Central Florida Veg Fest yesterday! We spent the day meeting great people and enjoying the fresh air, music from the acoustic stage, the smell of amazing vegan food, and watching happy-waggy pups of all kinds. Very few people were disconnected by their devices;  most were looking where they were going, saying hello to one another and having conversations, laughing, and being aware of what was around them!

The blood drive went very well – the generous, community-minded crowd at Veg Fest exceeded the expected units – 26 units were collected!  In fact, the bus was so busy that the staff couldn’t keep up and several people were unable to donate.  If you were one of those, please visit OneBlood.org and click Donate to find a branch or bus near you.  Thank you, everyone, for saving lives with us!  The Humanist Community of the Space Coast had a successful blood drive yesterday as well – thank you, Keith, and all of the HCSC members for making a difference!

Our donation jar collection was to help with our 2016 holiday STEM toy drive – providing math and science themed toys to at-risk children in our community.  Thank you, kind people, for donating $51.25 to help!  Visit our toy drive page for information about the drive and great links and STEM toy suggestions for your own shopping.

One of the missions of Veg Fest is to empower people to make positive changes to the way they eat and live. Humanism is a non-religious worldview that focuses on a person’s connectivity to and impact on others.  Humanists reflect on our ability and  responsibility  to make a positive difference in the world.  Our local secular group network offers a variety of ways to engage and empower Humanists, whatever their interests. BE. Orlando’s mission is to “Provide a diverse, service-oriented Humanist fellowship in Central Florida that makes a positive difference in our community and in the lives of our members.”

Veg Fest is always a great place to meet community-minded people who care about their impact on the world.  We connected with many people who were already members of the local secular communities, as well as many who hadn’t known there is a network of positive support and involvement opportunities in Central Florida.

There were some great conversations.  For example, a woman came over and asked “is this an Atheist tent?”  She  saw our “good without god” sign and stopped by because she is a Christian and her son recently “came out” to the family as being non-religious.  Atheism was not something she had any experience with. She wanted an opportunity to talk to someone (not just read about it) to understand more about the values and perspectives of people of non-faith so that she could better understand and include her son.  For example, what happens when it is his turn to say grace before dinner, as that rotation is part of their family tradition?  A suggestion was to encourage him to say a secular grace that is meaningful to him.

Another great conversation was with someone who wondered about why people of non-faith would have a “community”.  We talked about a church as a perspective-specific community and the non-religious aspects of church that are part of a Humanist community, such as sharing ideas, spending time with others who share your values, volunteering, learning, support for one another, a place to make friends, and a place where families can ensure their children have peers and role models that share the family’s values.

We of course want to encourage people to vote this election year, and had secular values voter stickers at our table – they were very popular! One local secular activist shared some research his organization compiled regarding election issues.  We added his information to our list of secular voter resources to help everyone as they educate themselves about issues and decide what kind of difference their vote is going to make.

Many people came over to ask about general volunteering resources (not with a church or with a Humanist community  – just volunteering).  To help our members and others seeking ways to get involved, we host a volunteer resource page providing links to local volunteer management agencies.  We also talked to several people about specific charities that aligned with their interests.

One woman was overjoyed to learn that Second Harvest Food Bank has a family night were younger children can come volunteer. Families are often looking for ways to engage their younger children in making a difference, but due to insurance and other necessities, charities often have an age minimum.  There are, however, charities where your children can volunteer.

There are also events like park or beach cleanups where kids are able to join with others in making a difference.  The Central Florida Freethought Community recently adopted a park and they host regular family-friendly Sunday morning cleanup events there (with donuts and coffee!).  Also, you can connect with agencies like Seminole County SERV to find events like invasive species removal or fun waterway cleanups.

Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by to say hello, share their personal journey, or connect with our community.  Thanks for all the thumbs up and smiles and nods of those walking by, and for everyone who thanked us for being there to share our message at Veg Fest.  We hope to see you again soon – if not at one of our events, maybe stop by and say hello at our vendor tent in April at Central Florida Earth Day. 🙂

And special thanks to Larry, Ryan, and the whole team that makes both Veg Fest and Earth Day festivals amazing!  You all ROCK!

LINKS

 

Hope, Inspiration, and Atheism

This past weekend there was a wonderful dinner benefit for American Atheists and the Central Florida Freethought Community.   There were two tables; one with Richard Carrier, prolific author, activist, and speaker. I unfortunately didn’t get to meet Dr. Carrier, but i believe we both ordered a single malt scotch. 🙂

americanatheistsI did have the honor of sitting at the table with David Silverman, president of American Atheists, and eight other members of our local secular community.  The conversation was inspirational, uplifting, and full of hope.  David shared his experiences as a global activist and how things have changed over time.  He confidently projects a positive  vision of an inclusive world that is not far down the road.  You may feel like you have a mountain to climb, he told the student president of the Secular Student Alliance at UCF, and you do – but so much has already been accomplished.

Initiated by someone wearing a  t-shirt at the table that read “Atheists believe in Good”, David and others shared stories about what it is like to wear an Atheist T-shirt in public – what it was like 20 years ago, and what it is like now. Attitudes of inclusiveness among the religious have evolved, and members of the secular community are everywhere.   David said that his current experience is almost 100% positive, often forming meaningful connections among strangers in public places by inviting conversation and openness.

In my personal experience of being visibly secular in Central Florida, there have been occasional hellfire glares; however, the most common reactions are of fellowship and even gratitude.  In 2014 when starting a university workshop imitative promoting inclusiveness for secular and faith minority individuals,  a savings of enough money to replace car tires seemed a wise step.  But that was never needed; in fact, the reception to the initiative has been overwhelmingly positive. David Silverman pointed out that Atheists may have a bad reputation among the religious, but the opposite is also true; we often make assumptions that religious individuals will be non-accepting of our perspective.

Silverman was a wonderful conversationalist and a great listener. His genuine interest in the personal journeys of those at our table encouraged sharing experiences from family rejection to empowering activism to humorous anecdotes.

The topic of increased secularism in the young generation bubbled through the conversation a time or two. Information accessibility allows critical and comparative evaluation of one’s faith perspective.  Exposure to new ideas and to facts that document the untruth of mythology allows critical thinkers to see dogmatic flaws, reflect on different ways to view our place in this world, and develop positive secular values.

Thank you to David and Jocelyn Williamson of the Central Florida Freethought Community for organizing this event, and thank you to David Silverman and Richard Carrier for your support of our local secular community.

A challenge to our readers:  Wear an Atheist or Separation of Church and State t-shirt for a day either out shopping or when traveling.  You might be surprised at the reactions.

For my own identity, the label Humanism focuses the message of my Atheism rather than softens it. Humanism is an ethical stance predicated on human responsibility  for making a positive impact; on our connectivity to – and effect on- others and nature; and on personal integrity.  While there are people of faith who use the term Humanism, they are using it to differentiate the potential and catalyst for human goodness from an assumed supernatural existence whereas secular humanism rejects the existence of the supernatural altogether.  Humanism is a philosophy of ethical Atheism.

LINKS

Reason Rally in 3 Weeks

Update 6/4/2016 – Thanks to everyone who is at Reason Rally today representing all secular Americans!

Reason Rally is only three weeks away! 

Those who support reason should plan to attend the 2016 Reason Rally in Washington D.C.  on June 4. Speakers, including leading scientists and well-known entertainers, will host the largest gathering of secular individuals in the nation to demonstrate the lobbying strength of those who support the separation of church and state, eradication of legislated faith-based discrimination against women and LGBTQ+ individuals, evidence-based educational curricula, and respect for the diversity of our American culture to include those of non-faith.

Want to go with a group? Members of our local Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC) are attending together – join them!

What is it like?  This video from inspirational secular icon Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist is a must-see:

reason-rally-header-logo

 

This initiative is a collaborative effort of major national secular organizations.  The Reason Rally gathering & celebration is on Saturday only, but there are activities over a four-day span to include door-to-door lobbying and a mini-conference if more involvement interests you.  Visit ReasonRally.org for more information.

Don’t wait for the 2020 Reason Rally – attend this one!

Get on the Bus!

rallybus2

Reason Rally Bus – Do you really want to try to park – and pay to park – near the Lincoln Memorial?  There is a national service collaborating with local operators and using technology (apps) to create a convenient and affordable way to attend the Rally. There are bus rally points all over the nation, and two in Florida – Orlando and Tampa. The bus will take you to Reason Rally and back.  Learn more about reserving your seat on the national Bus Rally site or on the Orlando/Tampa bus rally sign-up page.

The Orlando Rally Bus needs 39 more participants to confirm the bus – make your reservation today.  It leaves at 4:45  on June 3 from Festival Bay Mall and returns to the same place at 11:0o on Sunday, June 5th.  You would be at the rally from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. on June 4th.  The cost is $235.00

Speakers & Entertainers Include…

Bill Nye, Carolyn Porco, Johnny Depp, Margaret Cho, Amber Heard, GZA, Raekwon, Method Man, Kappadonna, Mathematics, Killah Priest, Cara Santa Maria, Lawrence Krauss, Julia Sweeney, Penn Jillette, Shelley Segal, Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, Liz Winstead, Dr. Anthony Pinn, James Randi, Kelly Carlin, Mark White, Annabelle Gurwitch, John Davidson, Ian Harris, Annie Laurie Gaylor, The Fab Four, Paul Provenza, Kameron, Yvette d’Entremont, Jensen, Victor Harris, Eugene Scott, Dan Barker, Maryam Namazie, Baba Brinkman, John de Lancie, Leighann Lord, David Silverman, Dr. Andrés Roeme, JT Eberhard, Todd Stiefel, Eddie Tabash, Robyn Blumner, Lyz Liddell

LINKS

 

Ask an Atheist Day

The third Thursday of April is Ask an Atheist Day.

You may have heard it killed the cat, but the love of learning – human inquisitiveness and the search to understand the world around us – what we call “curiosity” – is essential to our being and to our freedom.  Curiosity is the basis for education, and a means to approach others from a perspective of genuine willingness to connect rather than from a perspective of judgement.

atheist-humor

Spearheaded by the national office of the Secular Student Alliance, Ask an Atheist Day falls on the third Thursday of April, promotes respectful conversation, and provides an opportunity for those who have questions … to ask them.

From the Secular Student Alliance: “National Ask An Atheist Day is an opportunity for secular groups across the country to work together to defeat stereotypes about atheism and encourage courteous dialogue between believers and nonbelievers alike. The event is intended to be an opportunity for the general public – particularly people of faith – to approach nontheists and ask questions about secular life.”

Today is a great day for those openly secular to provide opportunities for those around them to ask questions, and for everyone to approach someone who has a different worldview from yours and ask (respectfully) what you have been wondering.  Even if you are a person of non-faith, you may have questions for others who share your perspective.  Open a conversation that can build a bridge across differences, open yourself to understanding new perspectives, and potentially create or strengthen a beautiful friendship.

Common questions that Atheists receive are related to predication of moral and ethical decisions, acceptance of mortality, inspirations for positive and optimistic living, involvement in community and volunteerism, and living without the support of a church community.  Recently someone shared with me that they were asked “What is your favorite part about being an Atheist?”  That was an awesome question.  And probably quite hard to choose a favorite. 🙂

I received a question from someone who wondered how i know to wash my hands after going to the bathroom.  It was a Ring of Gyges question: If you are not taught that someone is watching you, how are you guided to do the right thing?  This is someone misled to believe that human reason and integrity are inadequate (we can go into the Kantian debate another time…) and that humans would be incapable of doing even the simplest things in the right way if we were not told there is someone watching us from outer space who will apply consequences (the Santa Claus theory).  Washing your hands has physical, health benefits both personally and as part of the greater community in the prevention of the spread of disease.

BE. Orlando is committed to promoting the ubiquity of human kindness and compassion, and that the potential for human goodness transcends faith or non-faith perspectives. Secular Americans are increasingly visible in our culture: secularism is the fastest growing faith demographic in the country.  There are nonbelievers among your friends, family, teammates, colleagues, and even faith communities.  You may not know who they are, but they are potentially facing challenges as a marginalized demographic including bullying, discrimination, misunderstanding based on cultural normalization of majority group assumptions, and more.  Take this this day as an opportunity to explore, learn, and grow – and you will be an active part of positive change toward equal inclusion and respect for all Humans.

What is YOUR question? 

You may find you have more in common with other human beings than you knew – even those who hold equally strong commitments to worldviews different from your own.

LINKS

 

goodwithoutgod